R’ Aharon of Titov, eldest grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, was exceedingly humble.

He and his family suffered greatly because he refused to leverage his noble lineage to generate charitable donations, but when the teacher he had hired for his children refused to continue working without pay, R’ Aharon decided to change his ways. After all, he reasoned, he could not allow his children to suffer on account of his piety.

The impoverished scholar shared his plight with members of his community in Old-Konstantine (Starokostiantyniv), and they quickly came up with a plan to support him. Everyone would contribute a small amount toward the rabbi’s upkeep on a regular basis, and they designated one individual to begin collecting the money immediately.

After evening services, R’Aharon went over the events of his day and regretted asking others for help instead of placing his trust in G‑d alone. He uttered a small but audible prayer that G‑d should make the townspeople forget their plan to help him, and that he should receive G‑d’s help without having to rely on handouts.

Unbeknownst to him, an older gentleman overheard that prayer. Much to the man’s surprise, the next morning he discovered that indeed everyone had forgotten all about their plan to help R’ Aharon.

Shortly afterwards, this gentleman was visiting the town of Tetiv (Titov), whose people were in the midst of a terrible epidemic. Many children were sick and dying despite all the efforts of the local doctor, and the townspeople were desperately seeking a spiritual remedy.

Observing their terrible plight, the visitor suggested the following: Not far from here there is a holy man, a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, who is suffering from poverty. Invite him to come to your town to pray for the children and be sure to compensate him generously. You will see that in his merit the epidemic will stop.

The townsfolk sent representatives to invite R’ Aharon, but the humble scholar turned them down, saying he could not help. Messengers arrived with larger and larger offers, but still he refused to accompany them back to their village.

Finally, members of his own community, who knew how much he needed the money, pressured him to reconsider. He agreed, on the condition that the driver bring him back immediately, without even unhitching the horses.

And so it was. As soon as R’ Aharon’s coach rolled into town, the illness abated, and the townspeople crowded around him—each one clutching a note asking him to pray for them as well as a few coins for charity.

But R’ Aharon hopped back onto the coach without taking any money and asked the driver to bring him home. The people begged him to stay with them to celebrate but he refused.

The wise older man, who had been watching the entire scene unfold, suggested that the grateful townsfolk follow R’ Aharon home and join him in his hometown for Shabbat.

They spent a glorious Shabbat with R’ Aharon and begged him to become their spiritual leader.

After some thought, R’ Aharon concluded that since he had not made any effort to reach out to this community, it must be the will of G‑d, and he acceded to their request. R’ Aharon moved with his family to Titov, the town that has been associated with his name ever since.

“If a person strengthens himself in the service of G‑d, choosing to be fearful of Him and to rely on Him with regard to both Torah and worldly matters … he will be sustained without any exertion or hard work, according to his needs and sustenance, as it is written ‘The Lord will not starve the soul of the righteous.’ ”

Gate of Trust, Kehot Edition, pp. 89-90.